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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

What to Do When You Hate Your Job and You Don't Have Anything Else Lined Up (Yet)

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There’s no way to sugarcoat it—you hate your job. Your stomach is in knots every single Sunday night. Your walk into the office often feels like you’re trudging through cement. And, a sledgehammer seems like the only suitable way to silence your alarm clock each weekday morning—at least you’d be able to get some of that pent-up aggression and hostility out.

First of all, I’m sorry. Your career is a huge part of your life, and when it doesn’t leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied, it can have a pretty big negative impact on your overall outlook and attitude. It’s hard to leave that frustration at your desk when the clock strikes five every evening.

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If you’re trying to be proactive about your situation, I’m willing to bet that you’ve read your fair share of advice about what to do when your career makes you miserable. And, I’m also willing to bet that much of that advice told you the same thing over and over again: Get out.

It’s a well-meaning instruction, and I actually won’t even try to refute it. After all, if your position truly has you clenching your fists and grinding your teeth, it’s probably smart to start looking for something else. But, let’s face it—we don’t all have the luxury to pack up our desks and wave goodbye to our supervisors whenever the going gets a little tough.

So, if you’re anything like me, you typically get to the end of that well-intentioned advice and think, “OK, but what else?” Yes, perhaps you really are working on looking for a new gig. But, when you do eventually move on, you want to do your best to make sure it’s something you’re truly excited about. You don’t want to jump from the frying pan straight into the fire, so to speak. You’re being selective and taking your time.

That means you need to stick it out in this miserable position for at least a little while longer, and you’re desperate for any advice that helps make that process a bit easier.

Well, look no further! Here are five things you should do when you hate your job—that don’t involve storming out of the office and collecting an unemployment check.

1. Assess Your Situation

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But, it’s a step that’s often overlooked. We all have the tendency to get so wrapped up in how miserable we are, that we neglect to determine what exactly is causing that unhappiness.

So, it’s time to ask yourself some hard questions about your current situation. Is it your position that you hate, or is it your employer? Is there one key piece of your position that puts a sour taste in your mouth? Have you always disliked your job?

I know, this self-analysis likely isn’t the super actionable first step you were hoping for. But, these important questions will lay the groundwork for you to attack the next steps with a clear head and a narrow focus.

2. Have the Tough Conversations

Once you’ve identified what exactly is inspiring your distaste for your position, it’s time to have those difficult conversations with the powers that be. Is your workload too overwhelming? Do you feel you’re not fairly compensated for the amount of work you do? Is a member on your team not pulling his weight—contributing to your frustration? Talk these out with your supervisor to see if there are any adjustments that can be made.

All too often, the employee life-cycle looks a little something like this: Mary is hired and settles into a new position. Mary’s manager assumes things are going along swimmingly. Eventually, Mary resigns and explains how miserable she’s been the entire time.

Yes, it’s your boss’ job to support, supervise, and encourage you—but, it’s definitely not his duty to read your mind.

So, if something is making you unhappy, it’s up to you to take initiative and speak up. Employers are typically willing to go the extra mile to keep top talent around. So, who knows, you and your manager could come up with some great solutions to address your problems and increase your happiness! (If you’re not sure how to approach that conversation, read this.)

3. Switch Your Perspective

“Stay positive!” is another cliché piece of career advice you hear time and time again when you hate your current position. And, I’m trying my best to stay away from that same tired sentiment. However, I really do believe that a quick shift in your perspective could make a world of difference for you.

When you loathe what you do, it’s all too easy to just feel like you’re biding time—you’re just putting in your hours until you can finally escape from that hellhole. However, that sour, negative attitude isn’t going to make your life any easier. On the contrary, actually. It’ll make things much worse.

So, instead of looking at each workday as another time slot when you need to pay your dues and slop your way through, approach it as a chance to continue refining your skills and conquer new challenges. After all, what’s more challenging than making it through eight hours at a job you hate? Not much.

4. Vent About It

You know not to rant and rave about how much you hate your job on Facebook—that’s definitely not advisable.

But, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to ever air any grievances about your career. In fact, a little bit of venting can be a good thing for you—as long as you’re careful about how you do it.

So, grab a trusted friend and talk through all of your complaints and annoyances. I know, complaining doesn’t necessarily fix anything. But, you’ll likely be surprised at how much better you feel after unloading all of those feelings and frustrations.

5. Do Your Best Work

When you’re unhappy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of coasting and putting in minimal effort. I’ll admit that it can seem counterintuitive to put your all into something when you don’t even like what you’re doing. But, falling victim to mediocrity will only add fuel to your discontented fire.

So, push through and continue to turn in high-quality work. Even if you don’t necessarily enjoy what you’re doing, doing a good job with it will definitely help to lift your spirits and boost your confidence a little bit. Plus, if nothing else, at least you can go home each night feeling good about the work you put in that day. That’s something.

Toughing it out in a job you hate is enough to push anybody to his or her breaking point. And, as much as you’d love to box up your workspace and bid adieu to your supervisor, quitting isn’t always a realistic option.

Fortunately, there are a few other things you can do to make your detested 9-to-5 at least a little more tolerable.

Give these tips a try, and let me know how it goes on Twitter!